CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After years of renting apartments, 37-year-old Chris Cockerham and 32-year-old Heather Cockerham just closed on their first home. They chose the Plaza Midwood location to be close to Uptown and close to the restaurants and nightlife they enjoy with friends. They are also expecting their first child in November.

Feels pretty amazing actually. It's been a long time coming, Chris said. Heather adds, The process took about two months and we're in a home already. It's pretty incredible. I think a lot of people our age who are still renting don't realize or know the resources that are available to them to make it easier.

They worked with Allen Tate Realtors to navigate everything that comes with buying a home. Young millennials are the largest group of people in Charlotte buying homes.

Pat Riley is President of Allen Tate Realtors. He believes the Great Recession has delayed the American Dream for young people like the Cockerhams. Crushing student loan debt, a weak job market, and people waiting longer to get married have all contributed to a change in the way people settle down.

I remember my first job offer was in Erie PA, and you went to Erie PA because that's where the job was. Today, these young people are saying you know what? Quality of life. I want to find where I want to live first and then I will find my passion, my passionate job. That's a whole generational change. Complete change, Riley said.

He goes on to say, Many of us boomers, we bought our first home in our early twenties and had kids running around by our late twenties. Today millennials are purchasing homes at 29, 30, 31, 34.

Allen Tate believes Charlotte has become an attractive place to live for the world, and not just the United States. They estimate that home appreciation is rising to 3.5 percent per year, and that overall homeownership will settle to historic averages, or around 63 percent.

Standing on his deck with a sense of pride, Chris says, If you work hard, and you take care of the person you re with, have a dream, it will come through if you do it. All you got to do is wake up and go to work every day. I know that's hard to do sometimes. As long as you re doing that and you re with the right person, it works out.
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